Victims of rape and sexual violence in Middle Tennessee now have the option of visiting a clinic dedicated to their needs if they choose to have a rape exam done following their assault.
The SAFE Clinic, located on the campus of the Sexual Assault Center (SAC) in the MetroCenter area, is Nashville's first non-hospital facility for medical legal exams, commonly known as rape kits. Anyone age 16 and up can visit the SAFE Clinic within 96 hours of a sexual assault in order to have important evidence collected, even if they haven't decided whether they want to file a police report.
"For 40 years SAC has been providing counseling services to survivors of sexual assault and far too often we hear that someone didn't know at the time that they should get a rape exam--we want to change that," said Rachel Freeman, president and CEO of SAC. "Medical legal exams often provide the most critical evidence in a criminal case against an offender. It gives the power back to the victim/survivor to make a decision about whether they want to pursue prosecution."
The clinic was designed especially for victims of sexual assault in order to provide a nurturing environment where they feel safe and cared for in the aftermath of an extremely traumatic event. Features include a gated parking lot for security and a spa-like bathroom where victims can shower after the exam. During a visit to the SAFE Clinic, staff from SAC will offer other resources and information to help survivors begin the journey of healing.
Until now, Nashville General Hospital has been the primary location for rape exams in Davidson County. The SAFE Clinic will be operated through a partnership with Nashville General, the Metro Nashville Police Department and the Nashville District Attorney's Office.
The same specially-trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who see victims in the ER at Nashville General are on-call 24/7 to see patients at both the hospital and the SAFE Clinic. A victim of sexual violence does not have to be seen in a hospital setting, unless he or she is in need of emergency medical care for serious injuries.
The SAFE Clinic website www.nashvillesafeclinic.org includes an interactive tool to help victims determine if the clinic is the right place for them. It also includes additional information to help victims know what to expect during the exam process. Victims can access the clinic 24/7 at 101 French Landing Drive, although they are encouraged to call ahead to reduce their wait time. The clinic staff can be reached at 615-258-5888.